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New KT Ice Products Go Beyond Tape to Help You Prepare, Perform & Recover

KT Health Activate and recover cream ice sleeves-4
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Every day I get closer to the age where something always hurts. Some days, I’m already there.  As a result, I’ve started paying more attention to exercise recovery and overuse injury prevention. This is why recently, when KT Tape invited me to check out their latest products, I immediately signed up. Oh, and did I mention fat biking in Park City? 

If you’re familiar with the brand, you probably know KT Tape from their often colorful kinesiology tape adhered to some of the world’s best athletes. That’s still a big part of the KT business, but it’s a small portion of the greater population, so KT is thinking bigger. Specifically, they’re working to bring injury prevention and treatment options to every day athletes – even non-athletes.

It may be a stretch to see non-athletes taping themselves up, but that’s where KT’s newest products come in. Going forward, you’ll notice that KT is slowly removing the ‘Tape’ part of their brand identity. That’s big news for a brand that holds 80% of the market share for kinesiology tape, but many of their newest products are not tape so the name change makes more sense. Especially since the ‘KT’ in the name stands for Kinesiology Therapy – something you’ll now find in multiple forms. Tape products will still be under the KT Tape family, but the new products like the Ice Series will be under the KT Health umbrella.

Fat Biking in Park City with KT Health Activate

With a theme of KT Pro Ice, our time in Park City was all about how to prepare, perform, and recover. Broken down into two main groups, I was in the fat biking group along with KT CEO Jessica Klodnicki who joined the brand in 2022. Jessica is the real deal and was stoked to get out riding with the crew on her own fat bike (a beautiful Salsa Beargrease). The rest of us were on rental Norco Bigfoots from White Pine Touring, which worked out great.

KT Health Activate and recover cream ice sleeves-4

But before any of us hit the beautifully groomed trails of Round Valley, we got to check out the first new product. Called the KT Health Activate Magnesium Cream, it’s kind of like an embrocation cream but with the added benefit of magnesium. KT acknowledges they’re certainly not the first to offer a magnesium cream, but many of the products on the market are aimed at restless leg syndrome, or basic pain relief. 

Activate on the other hand is designed to loosen and warm your muscles prior to exercise to reduce stiffness and reduce the risk of injury. KT originally started working on a magnesium cream in 2019 with an original goal of using it as an electrolyte to feed your muscles. But what they found was that the magnesium helped to release contracted muscles and reduce stiffness. The magnesium also helps to allow the creams to be better absorbed into the skin. 

Combined with Arnica, it doesn’t take long to feel the Activate cream going to work – at least for me. One of the things that KT’s Director of Product Development and Research, Jeremy Newns, pointed out is that sensates (something related to your senses) are often perceived differently from person to person. Because of that, no two people will experience the product the same way. 

For me, I can tell you it got hot quickly, and stayed noticeable for about two hours. I spread the Activate cream liberally on my legs and lower back, before pulling on some winter cycling tights that were then covered by trail MTB pants. It was a pretty warm day for fat biking that started out in the high 20’s and eventually rose past freezing, but even so, my legs were warm. But true to Activate’s promise, they were also loose, and I felt like I was riding much stronger than I had expected. Due to our nearly snow-less winter at home, I’ve spent very little time on a fat bike this year, and a lot of time on a trainer with road bike-q-factor. 

I expected the jump to the wide fat bike q-factor to result in the usual soreness to my knees and legs, but it never came. 

It’s also worth pointing out that the KT Health Magnesium creams are mixed with skin-friendly ingredients like aloe, vitamin e, shea butter, and jojoba oil. After the initial application it never feels thick or oily, but my skin was noticeably less dry and ashy where I had applied the Magnesium cream, even two days later. 

Snowshoeing & Paddleboard Yoga, Then Time to Recover

KT really wanted to make sure we were feeling a bit sore before introducing the next product, so we proceeded to snowshoe to and from a yurt for dinner that night, followed up by some paddleboard yoga inside a hot spring crater. If you haven’t tried to do tree pose on a paddleboard before, it’s humbling. But it also requires your muscles to continuously fire to help keep your balance – I think I was most sore after the yoga. Which made it a great time to introduce their Recover cream.

Like the Activate cream, Recover is a magnesium-based cream with aloe, vitamin e, shea butter, and jojoba oil for skin health, only this time it’s mixed with menthol for pain relief and cooling. According to KT’s research, the magnesium and menthol combination loosens stiff muscles like the Activate cream, but it also helps to cool muscles and the menthol actually blocks pain signals. 

Dr. Erin Hassler who is a member of the KT Sports Medicine Advisory Board explained this to us in depth, but also with an understanding of medicine science that few of us possess. Apparenlty, menthol increases opioid receptors and activates the same thermoreceptor (TRPM8) on nerve endings that’s involved in sensing cold. This causes a cooling, soothing, and tingling sensation while also promoting vasoconstriction for reduced inflammation. 

Personally, I’ve found the Recover cream to also be effective, though maybe not quite as noticeable as the Activate cream. Going back to the whole sensate perception thing, for me the cooling sensation of the menthol isn’t as strong as the warming sensation of the arnica no matter how much I use. But it’s definitely working – you can feel it and smell it. More importantly, the Recover cream has already proven itself useful in multiple scenarios. I’ve used it on everything from a smashed elbow, to a spasming back, to just sore legs after big rides. In each situation, my recovery has been faster than expected, allowing me to get back into action. 

I often struggle with sleeping after big rides, which may be one of the best features of Recover. I’ve had a few big days now where I’ve pushed my body to the point I would normally have a restless sleep, but the Recover cream seems to really calm things down and I’ve slept much better. It’s not a miracle cure, but it’s better than anything I’ve tried to this point. 

Because of that, it’s become a fixture in my gear bag for big rides. I don’t use it all the time, but on days where I’m feeling stiff or sore, it’s a sure thing – at least in cooler weather. I haven’t had the chance to try out the Activate cream in hot weather yet, but I’m wondering how the intense warming sensation would be on a hot day. KT says they’re always working on new products, so maybe someday we’ll see a version of Activate for warmer weather with some sunscreen mixed in as well?

Pro Ice Products Include U.S.-Made Tape, Best Ice Sleeve Yet

In addition to the menthol Recover cream, KT is also introducing a new Pro Ice Tape, and my personal favorite, their new Ice Sleeves. Their first tape to be made in the U.S., KT Pro Ice Tape uses menthol-infused adhesive to provide some of the same benefits as the cream. Only, this time it’s combined with the same pain relief properties of their kinesiology tape as well. I haven’t tried the Pro Ice Tape for the same reason that the rest of the KT tapes don’t work for me – I’m too hairy. In order for the tape to stick, I’d have to shave the area first. That’s one of the main reasons I love the Activate and Recover creams, since there’s no need to shave. 

For those who want to use KT tape but are unsure of the proper technique, KT has a new mobile app that gives you tailored instructions based on the body part and the pain. 

When you need more intense ice therapy, KT has a better solution for that as well. Rather than trying to use a bag of frozen peas or an ice pack that’s stiff as a board, their new Ice Sleeves are amazing. 

Designed to offer 360º cooling, the Ice Sleeves all have a soft microfiber exterior that is extremely comfortable on your skin. Inside, a proprietary water-based gel uses a glycol solution to prevent it from ever freezing solid. The semi-solid gel also won’t leak, even if the sleeve is punctured. The design also prevents any condensation from forming and the sleeves will perfectly contour to your elbow or knee and allow you to move around even while icing thanks to the light compression.

The Ice Sleeves ship in a protective resealable freezer bag that prevents them from absorbing any smells from the freezer. Pull them out of the bag, and the Ice Sleeves will stay cold for 20 minutes, which is supposedly the sweet spot. Dr. Hassler mentioned that ideally, ice therapy should be 40-50ºF for 20 minutes max.

Offered in three sizes (XS/S, M/L, and XL/XXL), the Ice Sleeves can be used on your arms and legs depending on the size used. When you’re done icing, pop the sleeves back into their freezer bag and back into the freezer for the next time. 

All together, the Activate cream, Pro Ice Tape, and the Recover cream and Ice Sleeve form the new KT Ice Family. When combined, you have products meant to help you prepare, perform, and recover – or to just help forget you’re getting older. 

Pricing & Availability

KT Tape Pro Ice 

  • Launch Date: April 9
  • MSRP of $24.99
  • Now Available in retail stores
  • Will be available for purchase online at kttape.com and Amazon on 4/9

KT Activate Magnesium Cream

  • Launch Date: April 30
  • MSRP: $17.99
  • Now Available in retail stores
  • Will be available for purchase online at kttape.com and Amazon on 4/30

KT Health Recover Magnesium Cream

  • Launch Date: April 30
  • MSRP: $17.99
  • Now Available in retail stores
  • Will be available for purchase online at kttape.com and Amazon on 4/30

KT Health Ice Sleeve

  • MSRP: $39.99
  • Available Now Nationwide
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